CHURCH OF SAN ANDRÉS (CALATAYUD)
The church of San Andrés in Calatayud is believed to have been founded immediately after the conquest of the city by King Alfonso I, which, in the beginning, makes us think that it was in origin a reutilized mosque. Documentation of its antiquity comes from some legal disputes with the church of Santa María in which San Andrés pleads on the grounds of its greater age. In the 19th century, the church was at the point of being lost altogether, since on 10 March, 1870, the city council asked to demolish the churches of San Miguel and San Andrés owing to their poor state of conservation. On 27 December of this same year, the demolition of San Miguel was authorized; this didn’t happen to San Andrés since the provincial government introduced a clause stating that the tower of San Andrés was to be preserved and reinforced before the church itself was demolished.
This prescription was a sufficient obstacle for the council to decide not to tear down this church. The collapse of the side chapels on to the Calle del Hospital delayed the reopening until 21 September, 1874, when the cult was restored to the church. The church was restored between 1990 and 1992 by the architect Francisco Javier Peña Gonzalvo. The tower was restored in 1997 according to a project under the architects Ramiro Díez López and Joaquín Soro López.
The church is oriented towards the northeast, the first thing to take into account when positing that it was originally a mosque, and above the rest of the structure is its airy tower. In addition, on the north façade we can observe one of the two entries that opens at its foot, that lead to its first bay through a Roman arch, presently walled off, and the brick decoration projecting from the corresponding bay next to it. Halfway up is a band of angled or checkerboard bricks identical to one we will see on the first floor of the tower. There are also two small oculi that illuminate the interior. Above, under the brackets of inverted pyramids that serve to sustain the roof, there is a band of stepped squares that complete the decoration of this wall.
The interior, after successive reforms and enlargements to which it has been subjected over the centuries, has three aisles, with the center one wider and taller; a polygonal apse, a crossing not articulated in the plan, and three chapels on each side. The oldest part, probably corresponding to the 11th century mosque, is made up of the three last bays of the nave. The fourth bay of the nave, the simple vaulting of the crossing and the stone bosses are from the second phase (14th and 15th centuries). The last campaign, of the 16th century, widened the polygonal apse to its actual size of five sides. Since the restoration by Javier Peña, these phases of construction are clearly visible, since each is painted a different color: white for the first, reddish and gray for the vaults of the second, and ocher for the third and last.
The 16th century Renaissance style enlargement consisted in adding a bay more in the aisles and two in the nave. It was completed by little arched open tribunes opening on the central nave and the arms of the crossing.
Both the five-sided polygonal presbytery and the rest of the extension are of plaster bricks as opposed to the older part, which is brick, and covered with starred, curved triple ribbed vaults.
The crossing is covered with an oval cupola, blind and without a drum, which replaced the mudéjar cupola that fell in the 17th century. The latter is known to have existed by 1456, since in that year, the brothers Farax el Rubio and Braham el Rubio contracted for a cupola for the destroyed church of San Juan Bautista, in which it was explicitly stipulated that it be like the one in San Andrés. The church is illuminated by means of means of semicircular arched openings sloping towards the interior in the Renaissance-styled parts, and at the foot of the church in the side aisles as well, all added in the 16th century amplification.
On the right aisle there are two chapels in the third and fourth bays respectively. The first is rectangular in plan is covered by simple groin vaulting and is illuminated by two small oculi. Its construction is contemporaneous with the 14th-century vaulting in the three last bays of the aisles, substituting for the original wooden ceiling.
The second chapel is in the last bay below the tower, and we will talk about its interior when we discuss the tower itself. Functioning as a baptistery, it opens on to the church by means of a low arch with a wooden grill. Above the arch are two representations of the same heraldic device, one in the form of a shield; the other, round, surrounded by a garland. Certainly this last one is installed upside down.
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